Violence Won’t Solve the Problem?

Lots of well-meaning people have said this, or words to that effect over the years, generally after an egregious example of police brutality or a miscarriage of justice against blacks has ignited tempers and buildings. I’ve been one of those who said that… and the words are indeed true. But those words have become, it appears, merely an excuse for not doing very much after the violence dies down.

As a result, the injustices and brutality continue… and, when another terrible instance goes viral, so does the violence. That’s understandable… and unfortunate… because people get even more angry and frustrated when unfairness persists and major problems don’t get fixed.

Often, officials and politicians say it takes time. Oh? How much time did it take to get massive stimulus packages out to largely white-owned businesses? How much time did it take to get a massive tax break for the upper 1%? Trump can come up with an Executive Order to punish Twitter overnight, because they fact-checked his tweets, but he doesn’t seem inclined to deal with a double standard of justice, possibly because he thinks, as he did in the Charlottesville white power rally, that there are “good people” among the racists.

Many of the people who go along with the racists aren’t truly evil people, but they don’t understand just how pervasive the structural injustices are, and when someone attempts to remedy the problems, all they see is the government spending money on people they perceive as undeserving, and money that’s not spent on them.

What they don’t see, and often can’t or won’t see, is that almost every law on the books is enforced more harshly on people of color, and there are years of studies to prove it.

And, in the meantime, those who use the violent reaction to the latest example of blatant police brutality as an excuse for doing little or nothing might ask themselves how patient you’d be if you, your parents, your grandparents, and your ancestors had been subject to such brutality for roughly 400 years… and the politicians and courts still hadn’t put an end to it, in a country that hypocritically has praised itself for equality under the law for over 200 years.

5 thoughts on “Violence Won’t Solve the Problem?”

  1. Lourain says:

    But true.
    I have to look at the situation from the point of gender inequality. There are some parallels. But it is easy to overlook the other person’s problems when you only concentrate on your own.
    And it is easy when a person is in a position of power to think, “i got here. If you aren’t, then there is something wrong with you, and you don’t deserve help.”

  2. Ryan Jackson says:

    You raise two points that have been demonstrably false by nature of the people preaching them.

    The Takes Time Fallacy. Here’s another example. In Arizona Governor Ducey took forever to take any action regarding COVID 19. And when he finally took action, he took all the teeth out of it because he felt it was rushed. (IE he ordered a shutdown but then in the same announcement specified that police would not enforce it.).

    Fast forward to this past weekend. Looters (Apparently spurred by a YouTuber, not BLM) broke into one of the rich people malls. Within a few hours a curfew was in place. Again, Mass Pandemic killing people? Weeks of inaction and then barely any real effort. Rich White Neighborhood vandalized? Action within hours.

    And the Violence argument. I’m the first to say that if you have ethics violence should never be the first response. But if other methods don’t work, the idea that it’s somehow always wrong to escalate is something those in power use to shield themselves. If Violence is never the answer, why did the president sick Military force on non-violent protesters and a church bishop? If Violence is never the answer, why do the police have any violent methods or tools? Maybe because we understand that there are thresholds and lines that once crossed, violence becomes the only way, however undesirable, to handle a problem…

    1. I’m confused by your lead sentence, because the examples you cite support what I wrote.

  3. Hanna says:

    Yeah, me too.

  4. Postagoras says:

    The point to make is that, especially initially, rioting is not an element of strategy. As MLK Jr. famously said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” Rioting and peaceful protest can certainly have an effect on public opinion and policy, but it depends on how many people empathize with the unheard.

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